Technology

Space Exploration: Not Just for Astronauts

Written by Adam Torkildson

They say that we know more about the outer space than we do about our oceans. While it is true that the oceans on planet Earth still contain mysterious and yet unexplored phenomena, that still cannot be compared to the mysteries of the cosmos in any conceivable way. According to NASA, our very own galaxy, aka the Milky Way, should have 100 to 400 billion star systems, both smaller and larger than our solar system. 

The known universe is conservatively estimated to have anything between 100 – 200 billion galaxies. Considering that the ocean makes up roughly 3/4th of one planet that’s just one out of the countless trillions, such comparisons are simply unthinkable. That is what truly fascinates us about the cosmos.

Exploring Space without a Rocket

Although most of us will never get a chance to live that childhood dream of being an astronaut in outer space, there are other ways to explore the vast cosmos. Thanks to how far we have come in terms of making technological progress, some of those experiences can be surprisingly accurate.

Then again, when it comes to space, accuracy is a very flimsy term, since most of what we know is based on mathematical calculations and estimations. Therefore, taking a leap of scientific faith and focusing on the experience above all else, here are three of the best ways to explore space, without leaving your planet, or your home!

Simulations

If want to play God in a veritable Space simulation, Universe Sandbox is the best possible way to do so. It’s not a game, but a near-accurate, physics based simulation of real space that’s used by astronauts to learn more about space during training. You can enhance your own experience by wearing a VR headset, but that’s not a requirement in Universe Sandbox. What you will need, however, is a PC with powerful graphics. Find one powered by the latest Intel Arc Graphics processors on https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/faqs/intel/intel-graphics/.

Telescopes

Last but not the least, don’t ignore the timeless experience of actually seeing the celestial bodies with your own eyes, through a telescopic lens. Short of taking the virtual route, something like the Unistellar eVscope eQuinox or the Sky-Watcher Stargate-500P will let you get as close as humanly possible to the planets, stars, and even galaxies far, far away.

Virtual Reality

As long as you have a Virtual Reality Headset and a PC powerful enough to handle VR space exploration, you can see almost everything that NASA has seen so far. Did you know that there is a VR documentary that lets anyone explore the International Space Station (ISS)? It’s called Space Explorers: The ISS Experience. There’s a VR exploration sim called Mission: ISS as well, but this is not a documentary, but a fully-fledged ISS exploration sim.

If you feel that you are ready to explore space beyond just the space station, hop onto any one of Discovering Space 2’s huge collection of guided space tours. You can also travel through a black hole in Spheres, only to emerge unscathed but thoroughly scared on the other end of the dead star. There are some of NASA’s own, free, and paid exploration programs available at their own website, which is just about as realistic as it can get.

About the author

Adam Torkildson